image You’ve heard of the Kindle as a media savior. The Apple tablet as one?

“The tablet represents an opportunity to renew the romance between printed material and consumer,” says New York Times media critic David Carr. “Think of sitting in your living room, in your bed or on a plane with a publication you really adore nestled into your lap. Since print was first conceived, people have had an intimate relationship with the text, touching, flipping and paging back and forth…

“I haven’t been this excited about buying something since I was 8 years old and sent away for the tiny seahorses I saw advertised in the back of a comic book.”

The TeleRead take: One issue is whether people will buy pay for usability and convenience—just the right form factor and other ergonomics. That question is still unsettled in hard to the hardware itself.

If nothing else, we don’t know if Apple will try to lock in customers, Amazon fashion. Will it try associate content purchases with a certain device—its own. Will that be the way to get people to pay for what is now free on the Web, just as some cellphone users will pay?

As far as newspapers and magazines, the Kindle hasn’t made it yet. Even on the book side, the Kindle  still has a way to go. But perhaps the color screen, a spiffy interface and other refinements in the Apple tablet will do the trick. Hard to say.

Related: The latest collection of rumors written by John Gruber and recommended  by Feedbooks’ Hadrien Gardeur. Apple-ology, of course, is Silicon’s cousin of the old Kremlinology.


  1. David, NO — NO — NO!!!!! The Apple tablet cannot save newspapers and magazines. If you really want to “save” newspapers and magazines, you have to ignore these souped up devices and get back to the fundamentals: instilling a love of and need for reading in people. It won’t matter how many things a device can do or how beautiful it is if someone sees no value in reading a daily newspaper to learn what is happening around them. And if a person’s sole interest in a magazine is who a celebrity is dating or partying with, Foreign Affairs will not be saved by any device.

    I am frustrated by the search for THE device that will save print media (using print media as the synonym for newspapers and magazines regardless of whether they are p or e). You aren’t going to turn someone who doesn’t enjoy reading for its own sake into a reader by simply giving them a device that can display color pictures, connect to the Internet, play video, send e-mail, and, BTW, let you read something more than a coloring book.

    To save print media we must inculcate a love of reading for its own sake in our children.

  2. Great reply, Rich! I was thinking especially in terms of getting people to pay up, but let’s go beyond that, which you did.

    “To save print media we must inculcate a love of reading for its own sake in our children.”

    Obviously that’s the real answer. I’ve even heard of a plan for a well-stocked national digital library system integrated with schools and libraries. 😉 Tech alone won’t do.

    We need:

    –The right teachers and teaching methods. And involvement of parents when possible. The role models!

    –The content, the extra books.

    –And THEN (in terms of priorities) the appropriate gizmos to read ’em with. The tech actually is last.

    While the Apple device might help “steal” readers from paper and maybe gain some new ones, there is so much ELSE to do.

    You’re entirely right if you’re wondering, “Why isn’t Carr writing about that?”

    But gadgets are so much more fun.

    While we write a lot about gadgets for TeleRead to work toward sustainability–advertisers won’t pay for library posts alone–you can bet there’s plenty more important than hardware and tech tips.


  3. Apple-ologists (I kinda like Mr Rothman’s term) are all too aware of the iPod and iPhone.
    One should also be aware of *other* Apple innovations when trying to estimate the “assured” success of the unicorn tablet:
    – Apple III
    – Lisa
    – Newton
    – Pippin
    – The cube
    – The hockey puck mouse
    – Apple TV

    -And, while not Apple branded, Job’s other creation, the “wildly successful” NeXT.

    When it comes to Apple saving the media, I’d say the tablet will first need to save itself.

  4. BTW, the unicorn won’t be launching into a vacuum. The entire industry is focused on the tablet form factor and a honking *lot* of different products are coming to the form factor, pretty much daily. Here’s today’s tablet announcements:

    Plus, the eInk front gets updated:

    Going to be a fun week with all the news out of CES.

  5. No one with any credibility has claimed assured success for the Apple product, or that one company’s device will “save” newspapers. Baloney.

    Appleologists know all about the III, the Scribe, Newton and other Apple howlers. The company is a testament to success through failing early and often.

    The economics of distribution and consumption are fundamental to the viability of publishing. E-reader devices, Internet and wireless distribution of periodicals to the consumer can fundamentally change those economics. Clearly they’ve changed the book business.

    Teaching kids to be avid readers is necessary, but the way they read will change because paper itself is changing. That changes what and how you teach.

    Tablets will be different now because we finally have operating systems and UIs and touch-sensitive screens that really work in the tablet form factor — and development environments that bring tremendous power even to those who program in HTML.

    Get ready for the inevitable onslaught of “69 Reasons Why the [brand here] Tablet Will Fail Big Time” posts, while joining me in line to buy the devices.

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